Daily Archives: June 22, 2013

City, Arts and Public Spaces: Susan Schweik

Recently New York City’s official adoption of a new disability accessibility icon has gotten a lot of press: a dynamic figure in a wheelchair zooming through blue space, in sharp contrast to the familiar poky, static handicapped parking-lot sign. (See, for instance, http://boingboing.net/2013/05/25/new-york-city-adopts-new-inter.html.) What I personally have found more interesting, though, is the deliberately unofficial approach advocated by one of the icon’s original designers, artist and researcher Sara Hendren at Harvard’s graduate school of design. She began, with collaborator Brian Glenney, with a graffiti-like sticker pasted informally over any old blue sign, with the old wheelchair icon still showing underneath. Hendren writes of the project to imagine and promote a different vision of disability and prosthesis: “There was something tempting, of course, about the idea of a wholesale re-design—just slap it on, and change the entire message.

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